Who will bring SexyBack?

With apologies to Justin Timberlake, I read with interest an article in CIO Insight today about a blogosphere debate over the merits of ‘sexiness’ in enterprise software.

It seems that Bill Gates started the maelstrom by insinuating consumer technologies got more than their fair share of press coverage versus the enterprise offerings.   Thus a blog dispute was born by some heavyweights about whether or not enterprise software needs to be friendly, let alone sexy.  I have trouble with both of those terms since they’re pretty nebulous.

When they say friendly I guess they mean intuitive, logical and allows the end user to complete their tasks in minimal clicks.  Or does it mean providing context sensitive information so the user is presented what they need to know or task specific help at the time they’re following through a business process?  Maybe it’s all of the above.  But ‘sexy’?  What is that in relation to enterprise software?

The author of the CIO article tries to define it later on when he states ‘Usability is a measure of sexiness…’  I can live with that although I think usability is also an overused term.  If end users tell me they want better usability and provide no more details, then I’d have a hard time guessing what specifically they want.  Faster processing?  Different colors?  Less clicks?  Or perhaps more options to drill down into information?  Any of those items could fall under usability.

Finally, I find it very ironic that CIO Insight is covering this topic on sexy software when they themselves have one of the ugliest websites around.  They have more junk all over their page than I certainly prefer and a lot of it is advertising.  Also, where can readers leave comments and see what other readers have posted to spur some lively debates on the topic?  Oh yeah, you can email their editors and they’ll be sure to get back to you. 

 Not very sexy if you ask me.